Embracing the challenge: My NPCC journey
Shelby Matthews is a third-year PharmD candidate at the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine School of Pharmacy and winner of the 2023 APhA–ASP National Patient Counseling Competition.
As winter break approached, an email from my APhA–ASP Chapter caught my attention. It was an invitation to compete in our local patient counseling competition, a stepping stone toward the renowned National Patient Counseling Competition (NPCC). Although patient counseling in class had always previously made me feel anxious, I decided to see this as an opportunity for personal growth and accepted the challenge that would lead to the 2023 APhA Annual Meeting and Exposition in Phoenix.
The counseling rounds
Entering the NPCC, I was filled with a mixture of excitement and nervous anticipation. Having won my local competition a few months prior, I already felt more confident in my patient counseling skills.
During the initial round of the competition in Phoenix, I approached my patient with empathy and active listening, aiming to establish a meaningful connection within the limited time available. In preparation for the final round, I had the guidance of our chapter advisor, Sweta Andrews, PharmD, who provided invaluable support and words of encouragement. My focus during the final round was to provide clear and concise information while also ensuring I considered the patient’s individual needs and concerns.
The winner of the NPCC was announced live during APhA2023’s Award Ceremony. I was fortunate to have Dr. Andrews and several of my classmates, who showed their unwavering support, among the audience.
When my name was called as the winner, I felt a surge of shock and surprise. I could hardly believe it! However, the resounding cheers from my classmates quickly turned my feelings to joy, reminding me how grateful I was to have their support.
The importance of patient counseling
Proper patient counseling lies at the heart of effective pharmacy practice. Pharmacists possess a unique opportunity to bridge the gap between patients and their medications, ensuring optimal outcomes and enhancing overall health care. Through open dialogue, education, and addressing patient’s individual concerns, pharmacists foster trust and empower patients to actively participate in their own care.
The benefits for future practice
Participating in the NPCC has not only shaped me into a more competent future pharmacist, but has also instilled in me a profound passion for making a positive impact on the lives of those I serve. The competition not only assessed my clinical competency, but also challenged me to think critically and adapt my communication style accordingly.
I believe that effective communication is the key to being successful as a pharmacist, and I’m confident that the experiences and skills gained from the NPCC will serve as a solid foundation for that.